A (Microsoft) Word® about Drawing Tools

by Kara Glover


Create a flier for an upcoming event.  Put together an invitation to that party.  Or make a card for your sweetheart.  Let your creative juices flow using a tool you probably already have but might have never used - Microsoft Word's drawing toolbar.

If you're lucky, you'll glance down at the bottom of your Word screen and see a toolbar full of lines, circles, letters and pictures.  That's the drawing toolbar.  If you're unlucky, you have to insert it, which should only take a sec.  Click on the View menu at your screen's top left.   Scroll down to Toolbars, and a whole list should pop up.  If there isn't a checkmark beside Drawing, click on the word Drawing and the toolbar will appear at the bottom of your screen.  (If a checkmark is already besides Drawing, your drawing toolbar should already be visible.  Or else something is desperately the matter!)


The first item on the toolbar I'm going to introduce you to is WordArt.  With WordArt you can create big, funky, colorful lettering ideal for a flier or invitation.  Double click on the blue, tilted letter "A" sitting in the middle of your drawing toolbar.  A window pops up with the word "WordArt" drawn in a zillion different ways.  Choose one that looks pretty to you, and double click on it.  Up pops another, smaller window with the word's "Your Text Here" highlighted in blue.

Now it's time to think of something you'd like to say on your masterpiece.  What about "Happy Birthday" or "I Love You," or whatever the heck you want.  Let go of the mouse and type your word(s).  Click OK.  Like magic, your text should appear on the page!  If you double click your new creation, you will see in the box that you can change both the font and text size, as well as make the text bold or italicized.

Think this is cool?  We're going to make your creation look even cooler.  Make sure your WordArt on the page is highlighted by clicking so it has a thin black border around it.  Then click on the three- dimensional square on the toolbar's far right end.  This is the "3-D Style" button.  A boxwith a group of cleverly angled three-dimensional boxes appears.  Click on one to your liking, and your WordArt is now 3-D WordArt!

Maybe you'd prefer a shadowy look to the third dimension.  Click on the Shadow Style button just to the left of the 3-D button.  As before, click on a look you like and this time try to follow your WordArt shadow!

Another fun aspect of the drawing toolbar are its AutoShapes. Draw a heart for your loved one.  Make a happy face for your friend.   Click on AutoShapes near the toolbar's left end.  Place your cursor over some choices, such as Stars and Banners or Block Arrows to see the array of shapes you can draw.

We're going to focus, to stay with the theme in the last paragraph, on the choice giving you the opportunity to draw hearts or happy faces.  This is the "Basic Shapes" choice.  Put your mouse pointer on that choice, move your mouse pointer over to the right into the box, and click on, let's say, the heart.  Place your mouse pointer into the page, and observe it turns into a cross.  Now press on your mouse, and drag it diagonally, from top to bottom, across the page.  Let go as soon as you've drawn whatever size heart you like.

The little circles circling the heart indicate that it's highlighted.  At this point, while the heart's highlighted, we can color it in!  See the paint bucket on the drawing toolbar?  That's the button for filling in color.   Click on the small black arrow to the right of it and click on a color square, say red for instance.  Hopefully, if you were able to follow the steps, your heart is now a beautiful red!

Next we can put a border around your heart.  Make sure it's still highlighted  (click on it once if it isn't so the little circles appear).  Click on the Line Style icon, the fifth icon from the right that has solid, horizontal lines on it.  Pick a line, any line, and click on it.  You should now see the border you chose surrounding your beautiful red heart.  You don't want a black border, you say?  Ah hah!  We can change the border color!  While your heart is still highlighted, click on the tiny black arrow to the right of the icon with the paintbrush on it - the Line Color icon.  Like you did with the fill color, click on a color of your choice  ( I picked blue myself), and your heart's border should turn that color.  Note that you can apply these techniques to any AutoShape.

You can draw squares  (or rectangles)  with the tool that looks like a rectangle.  Click on the tool, and drag the cross to make a square or rectangle just like you did with the AutoShapes.  Same goes with the oval tool next to it.

One beauty of the drawing toolbar is it lets you type text anywhere you want it.  Click on the Text Box tool, to the right of the oval tool.  Draw a text box  (just like you did the AutoShapes)  anywhere your little heart desires - let's say, inside your red heart!  Now type what you'd like to tell your sweetheart!  I typed "I love you."  Note if you highlight the text after you write it, you can change the font, type size, etc.  just like in Word.

But now I have a white text box inside a red heart, you say!  No problem.  Right click on the edge of the text box and click on Format Text Box.  In the dropdown box next to "Fill," choose No Fill, and in the box next to "Color," choose No Line.  Click OK, and your text appears on a seamless red background in your beautiful red heart.

The last trick I'm going to teach you is how to insert a picture into your masterpiece.  Click on the Insert Picture icon in the toolbar's middle.   It looks like a yellow landscape scene with mountains.  Next you have to find a photo in your computer you'd like to insert.  I can't help you with that one.  Only you know where you keep your photos.  When you find the photo, double click on it, and it should appear on your masterpiece.

Don't like where you photo landed?  Put the mouse on it until it turns into a four-pointed, black arrow.  Then press and drag your photo anywhere you'd like.  You can do some cool things with your photo once it's situated on the page.  You can crop it, for instance.  If the photo is highlighted you should see a Picture Toolbar off in a corner somewhere.  Click on the cropping tool in the middle.  It looks like a black, intertwined, double helix.  You should now see some fragmented borders around your photo's corners and edges.  Place your mouse pointer on a corner one, for instance, then press and drag toward the photo's inside.  You've just cropped your photo!  Drag the corner back out to where it was, and you've uncropped it!

I didn't go over all the tools on the drawing bar, but these should keep you busy for awhile.  If I get enough requests for it, maybe I'll do a second article on the subject and go into even more detail.

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©2004 by Kara Glover

Kara Glover is a Computer Tutor and Troubleshooter.  You can find her free online tutorials on topics such as Microsoft Word®, Excel®, and PowerPoint® at her website:


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